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Minimize spillage and stop bounce no matter what type of workout you prefer.
The sports bra is arguably one of the most important pieces of fitness apparel for women—so it’s crazy to think that the first one was invented less than 50 years ago. An ill-fitting bra can easily derail your workout, leading to discomfort, pain, and even unnecessary extra effort.
“Whilst during yoga, your breasts move predominantly side to side and can experience displacement of up to five centimeters, activities such as jumping results in vertical breast displacement of up to 17.8 centimeters and running leads to movement in all directions (vertical, forwards, backwards, side to side),” Joanna Wakefield-Scurr—a professor in Biomechanics and Head of the Research Group in Breast Health at the University of Portsmouth—said in a recent press release from Adidas.
What does that translate to? An ill-fitting or under-supportive bra could actually negatively impact your workout as well as be uncomfortable. Back in 2020, that same research group (in conjunction with Brooks Running) found that women lose up to four centimeters of stride length due to poorly controlled breast movement while running—which, over the length of a marathon, could translate to running an extra mile. No, thanks.
If that still sounds overwhelming, don’t worry—to make sure we’re recommending only the best, we evaluated the sizes available, the support offered, and more for each bra on this list.
Best Overall: Glamorise Custom Control Sports Bra
What We Love: Its versatility.
What We Don’t Love: There are limited color options.
“This is my number one pick for larger breasts,” says Laura Tempesta, a sports bra expert and founder of Bravolution. The design combines internal encapsulation with external compression, which makes it ideal for multiple workout types: “Because it’s not overly stretchy, it can be used for running, but it also locks down the top of the bust so breasts stay put when doing something like downward dog in yoga,” she says. Plus, if the bounce control panel at the front doesn’t immediately rein things in, there are four levels of adjustment at the shoulders to finetune the fit.
Price at time of publish: $66
Size: 32B to 46I | Colors: 4 | Padding: no | Material: polyester, polyamide, elastane | Closure: hook and eye
Best Budget: All In Motion High Support Sculpt Zip Front Bra
What We Love: The zipper front makes putting it on and taking it off easy.
What We Don’t Love: It’s not as supportive as some more expensive options.
Don’t sleep on Target’s activewear, which is just as good as bold-name brands for a fraction of the price. Case in point: This All in Motion zip-front bra, which rings up at just $24. It can handle everything from yoga to running, and has all the essential features—like adjustable straps, molded cups, and moisture-wicking fabric—as well as a few just for fun, like that crisscross back.
Price at time of publish: $24
Size: 34B to 44DD | Colors: 4 | Padding: Yes | Material: polyester, spandex | Closure: zipper
Best Splurge: lululemon Enlite Zip Front Bra
What We Love: The fabric is super smooth and lightweight
What We Don’t Love: The encapsulated cups means the zipper tends to stick out a bit.
In the case of Lululemon’s Enlite bra, the higher price tag is justified by the high-tech performance benefits. The brand invented an incredibly lightweight new fabric called Ultralu—it feels like butter—that supports up to 20 breast sizes without rubbing or chafing thanks to smooth, bonded seams. Add to that encapsulated cups that move with the breasts in all directions and thick straps to mitigate shoulder pain, and this bra can stand up to the most intense workouts. Fair warning that the encapsulated cups causes the zipper to lay flat but not flush with the body—you may see the outline under tight tops.
Price at time of publish: $108
Size: A-DDD(E) cups | Colors: 5 | Padding: No | Material: nylon, elastane, polyester | Closure: hook and eye, zipper
Best Plus Size: SuperFit Hero Sports Bra
What We Love: It’s available in sizes all the way up to 7X.
What We Don’t Love: It’s not adjustable at all.
Not only does the SuperFit Hero Sports bra come in sizes up to 7X, it’s also available in 12 colors—there’s likely a combo for everyone. It’s made from the brand’s most popular SuperHold compression fabric, which easily stretches to accommodate you, but still holds everything in during medium-impact workouts thanks to a wide elastic underband. Plus, there are no distractions in the form of removable cups, padding, or inserts, and the flatlock seams guarantee no chafing. It is one of the best plus size bras on the market.
Price at time of publish: $69
Size: L to 7X | Colors: 12 | Padding: No | Material: Polyester, spandex | Closure: Slip on
Best Petite: Wacoal Lindsey Sport Contour Underwire Bra
What We Love: A little less coverage keeps from overwhelming small frames.
What We Don’t Love: Mesh fabric may chafe under arms.
With a more traditional shape that doesn’t look as full coverage as some other sports bras (it is, but you’ll show a little more cleavage), Wacoal’s Lindsey bra is streamlined enough that it won’t overwhelm smaller frames. It still offers plenty of support, with underwire, microfiber slings on the seamless cups to minimize bounce, and adjustable straps that are cushioned in the front and convertible in the back.
Price at time of publish: $76
Size: 32C to 40G | Colors: 7 | Padding: yes | Material: polyester, spandex, nylon | Closure: hook and eye
Best High-Impact: Nike Alpha Women's High-Support Padded Adjustable Sports Bra
What We Love: Hook and eye closure and adjustable straps help you find the perfect fit.
What We Don’t Love: There’s a lack of inventory in certain colors.
Nike hasn’t always been known for their size inclusivity, but after an overhaul of their sports bras, they’re now offering sizes XS (A to C) through 3X (F to G). “The Alpha Bra is designed for running and other high-intensity activities,” says Sandra Gail Frayna, founder of Hudson Premier Physical Therapy and Sports, “and it features a compressive fit and adjustable extra-wide straps for maximum support.” Molded cups with engineered foam pads add to that support while minimizing bounce. It’s also available in a zip-front style for easy on and off. And no matter how many burpees your HIIT class calls for, ventilation panels let your skin breathe.
Price at time of publish: $68
Size: XS (A to C) to 3X (F to G) | Colors: 10 | Padding: Yes | Material: Polyester, nylon, elastane | Closure: Hook and eye
Best for Running : Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Sports Bra
What We Love: It’s designed specifically to support the motion of breasts while running
What We Don’t Love: The clasp at the upper back can be difficult for some people to fasten on their own.
Running is a repetitive sport, and that relentless up-and-down motion can be brutal for larger breasts. This combination bra—which has a dedicated following among larger-busted runners, says Tempesta—was designed specifically to support the figure eight motion breasts make during a run. And nearly every feature prioritizes comfort: The seamless microfiber lining of the cups and covered elastic under the arms combat chafing; the moisture-wicking underband keeps sweat from pooling; and the wide, cushioned shoulder straps have multiple insertion slots for a customized fit. Pro tip: The less you bounce, the further and faster you can go.
Price at time of publish: $85
Size: 30A-38G | Colors: 4 | Padding: No | Material: Nylon, polyester, elastane | Closure: Hook and eye, slide and snap
Best Front Closure: ENELL Full Coverage High Impact Sports Bra
What We Love: The front closure makes it easy to get on and off.
What We Don’t Love: Fabric may feel heavy or less breathable.
“Oprah once declared this her favorite sports bra,” says Tempesta, and who would argue with Oprah? If you’re looking for the ultimate lockdown support, Enell’s design combines encapsulated cups (which are double-layered to support a natural shape) with a compressive fit to hold the breast tissue down. “I love the front closure feature because it makes it easy for those who have trouble reaching around their backs to put the bra on or take it off,” says Tempesta.
Price at time of publish: $80
Size: 00 to 4 | Colors: 6 | Padding: No | Material: Nylon, spandex | Closure: Hook and eye
Best Zip Closure: SheFit Ultimate Sports Bra
What We Love: The zip front and adjustable back allow for lots of adjustability.
What We Don’t Love: It may be a little low-cut for some wearers.
Shedding a sweaty sports bra shouldn’t be harder than your workout—a fact that begs the question: why aren’t there more zip-front sports bras? “The SheFIT Ultimate Sports Bra fits better than most zip-front sports bras because it has both a back adjuster and a front zip,” says Tempesta, which allows for adjustability in most areas. It can be a little low-cut on some wearers, she warns, but if you’ve had trouble finding a sports bra that fits you snugly, this one’s for you.
Price at time of publish: $75
Size: XS to 6Luxe | Colors: 11 | Padding: Yes | Material: Polyester, nylon, spandex | Closure: Zipper
Best Underwire: Elomi Energise Full Figure Sports Bra
What We Love: It offers a huge range of cup and band sizes.
What We Don’t Love: Straps are narrow and may provide less support.
Underwire offers extra support for larger breasts—but embedding them in sports bras can require heavy layers of fabric or foam, says Tempesta. This one from Elomi, though, tucks those wires within a lightweight, microfiber fabric that wicks moisture away from the skin. And even though the design isn’t compressive, everything should feel snug and secure in the three-piece cups that pair with a side support panel to shape, separate, and lift the breasts. A subtle J-hook on the straps transforms the bra from a straight strap to an x-back, making it easier to pair with more cute workout tops.
Price at time of publish: $67
Size: D to K | Colors: 5 | Padding: No | Material: Polyamide, elastane | Closure: Hook and eye, J-hook
Best Racerback: Under Armour UA Infinity Mid Covered Sports Bra
What We Love: The simple, streamlined look.
What We Don’t Love: It may not be supportive enough for larger band sizes.
“As a petite and curvy gym rat myself, this bra gives ultimate support and coverage without feeling bulky or tight,” says Morgan Bienvenue, a stylist and brand consultant. Under Armour’s Infinity bra is the kind you could comfortably wear for medium-impact activities like cycling or weight training, with adjustable straps, molded padding for extra support, and a smooth, sweat-wicking band that doesn’t itch or rub.
Price at time of publish: $40
Size: XS to XXL | Colors: 8 | Padding: Yes | Material: Polyester, elastane | Closure: Hook and eye
Best Compression: Champion Spot Comfort Sports Bra
What We Love: No wires, no padding, just a tight, supportive fit.
What We Don’t Love: Compression may not be enough support for larger sizes.
Made from a tight, compressive fabric—but with molded cups for natural shaping—this Champion bra will support sizes C through DDD, no matter the intensity of your workout. Adjustable, gel-cushioned straps and a soft band reduce pressure and irritation, while strategic ventilation in the mesh neckline, front inset panel, and straps keeps heat from getting trapped in your cleavage.
Price at time of publish: $40
Size: C-DDD | Colors: 6 | Padding: No | Material: Nylon, polyester, spandex | Closure: Hook and eye
What to Keep in Mind
Compression vs Encapsulation
Sports bras control breast movement in three main ways: “Compression bras are the quintessential sports bra which controls breast movement by compressing, or flattening, breast tissue,” says Tempesta. “Encapsulation bras have two separate distinct cups—which look like the cups in an everyday bra—they encase each breast to control movement. Combination bras use both technologies.” While those with smaller busts can generally get adequate support from compression-only styles, encapsulation and combination bras are generally best for larger busts. Our favorite compression-only bra is Champion Spot Comfort Full Support Bra. If you’re looking for encapsulation, then Lululemon Enlite Front-Zip Sports Bra is your best bet, and for both turn to Glamorise Custom Control Sports Bra.
While most of the support of a bra comes from a proper fitting band and cup, a strap can ease your heavy breast suffering, too. A wider strap, like on the Nike Alpha, can prevent the bra from digging into your shoulders and leave marks. While a racerback style has straps (see: Under Armour UA Infinity Mid Covered Sports Bra) that cross in the back, giving a bit of lift that can take some pressure off. Champion Spot Comfort Full Support Bra has gel-cushioned straps for a more comfortable experience. And, of course, looking for adjustable straps—found on Target’s All in Motion High Support Sculpt Zip Front Bra—can give you a more customized fit for your bust line.
Your Questions, Answered
Should a sports bra for large breasts be super tight?
While a sports bra should fit snugly, wearing one that’s too tight can cause discomfort, pain, and chafing—all of which will detract from your workout. Instead, “look for sports bras that fit like they were custom made for you,” says Tempesta. That means the bra can be adjusted at multiple points to finetune the fit.
The type of workout you’re doing will also play a role in what type of bra you should wear. “The more the bra stretches the more the breasts will move, but the more the bra stretches the more comfortable it is,” says Tempesta. “If you are doing an activity where your breasts aren’t moving much, opt for stretch and comfort. If you are doing a high-impact activity, opt for less stretch.”
Should a sports bra for large breasts have padding?
Padding is more of an aesthetic addition to sports bras, in that it prevents your nipples from being noticeable. In some cases, padding can add extra support, but most bras for larger breasts are designed to help support natural motion via molded cups, thicker straps, side supports, and other features. It’s really an issue of personal preference.
Should all sports bras for large breasts be full coverage?
More support comes from more coverage, so you should look for sports bras with higher necklines or wider front panels for high-impact workouts like running. You can likely get away with less coverage during lower-impact activities, like yoga or pilates. In many cases, coverage will be a matter of personal preference—if you have a larger cup size, a sports bra with more coverage may prevent you from spilling out of it, but maybe you like to show a little cleavage. Remember: Sports bras should fit snugly, but they shouldn’t be restrictive. A sports bra that fits you properly should support you whether it’s full coverage or not.
Why Shop With Us
Ashley Mateo is an award-winning journalist and editor who currently works as a freelance editorial consultant. She was previously the site director of Redbook and the deputy digital editor at Shape. Not only is she a running coach and marathon runner, making her a particularly knowledgeable person on the topic of sports bras, but she also consulted additional bra and breast health experts to make this roundup as comprehensive as possible.
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